I do two things: coaching and survivor work (both direct service and professional trainings). For the past year I felt like they complimented each other. But I asked myself a few weeks ago "what would I do even if I knew I was going to fail?". It's a riff on a question that I've asked myself before and one that I use often with clients. But I'd read the question again recently in Liz Gilbert's new book, Big Magic, so it was stubbornly sticking with me.
A. I would do the survivor work. I'd do that every day, all day even if it flopped. Even with unflattering evaluations. Even when my program doesn't fill or I don't get the call back. The survivor work is in my soul.
Small business is a hustle. I don't mind hustling but I don't want my days to feel like they are all hustle.
I'm a good coach. But I'm tired of the constant marketing and educating people about the difference between coaching and therapy. It's exhausting to work at something that's often the punchline of jokes. I don't want to get up early to schedule and check the social media that I didn't tackle the day before. I want to get up early and write, if I don't go to the gym. I'd rather do research about the affects of sexual abuse on women in pregnancy, breastfeeding women and women in labor. I don't mind completing lengthy applications to present at conferences. I like reaching out to community partners. It's disappointing when they don't call back but I keep calling.
One of the survivors, H, at a group last year said, "You have a gift,". H. has been coming to groups for almost a year now and the difference is striking. She sees it, her family sees it (her cousin has even started coming to groups), I see it. H is right. I do have a gift and it's not just that a survivor myself. Like you, I have many gifts but that's not enough. I'm at that point in my work where I need to make some hard choices about direction and use of those gifts. Or risk being exhausted by everything which often translates into useless for anything.
I asked myself a few weeks ago after a long day and emotional evening, what it would feel like to let go of the coaching. The answer, came pretty quickly: it would be a relief. As I often do, I checked in with Seth Godin for affirmation of my gut instinct. Check! Godin says, I don't think I need to change everything. That's too hard, yes, as he says, but for me, it also feels impractical and perhaps unnecessary. So, I'm going to let go of the group coaching. For the moment, I'll keep Bang It Out! coaching. My BIO clients are amazing; they come to me through blog posts or friends of friends, not through social media campaigns. They never feel like hustle. But, if at the end of April, BIO! coaching feels like as much work as group coaching did, I'll let it go in favor of the survivor work.
It would be easier, but still exhausting, to sit back and continue doing what I'm doing. One of my 2016 words is "uncomfortable" so I'm going to grit my teeth and dig into that feeling. "Uncomfortable" is uncertain and messy but it's also about the bigger reward, being more true to who I am. I don't want to sit back at the end of the day, exhausted by all the busy work I did that didn't make a difference and at the same time, feel none of the reasons why I work for myself in the first place: so I can build and live in my own dreams.
Failure is guaranteed. But that's what it means to show up and be seen by you and everyone else, right? And if failure is guaranteed then it makes sense to have the failure happen as a result of work that I love, work that feeds my soul and makes me feel as alive and relevant as anyone else out there. Because if I'm failing at something that doesn't feed me, I might as well be working for someone else again.
Failing or settling? Comfortable or ill at ease? What decisions are you hashing out right now? I'd like to know. Thanks for reading.